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Portland, OR
USA

I exist to help dads learn to communicate and engage with their young adult daughters.  I provide resources from my vast amounts of research and experience with dads and daughters, and this is the place where you'll find the tools you need to become the hero you've always wanted to be.

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Six Words That Will Make You a Better Dad

Michelle Watson

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Are you old enough to remember the craze in the 60’s and 70’s where really cool prizes (a.k.a. “cheap gimmicks”) were tucked inside cereal boxes?  I can still see my sister and I begging my mom to buy the cereal with the most alluring prizes, regardless of whether we even liked it (which I’m sure set a foundation that thrives to this day because I’m still a sucker for a deal!).  

One of my all-time favorite prizes was a decoder ring that I somehow believed would instantaneously transform me into Sherlock Holmes because I had the cryptic tool for solving the mysteries on the back of the box (it’s amazing how inexpensive toys brought such joy back then…but that’s another story for another day).

The thing that sticks out in my mind about decoder rings is that they instantly provide the link between the problem and the solution. Without the magic ring the problem is left unsolved and unanswered.  

If you’re a dad to a daughter, the question I pose to you is this: Do you ever wish you had a decoder ring to better translate, understand, and relate to her?  

If you’re anything like the dads of daughters I lead in The Abba Project (a group for dads with girls between the ages of 13 and 30) you are often left scratching your head as your daughter matures into her teen years and beyond, sometimes wondering where “daddy’s little girl” went. As your potential confusion rises, it can easily lead you to make a reactive decision where you back away while turning to mom and saying, “here, you’re a girl---you go in.”  

Child psychologist Dr. James Dobson poses a powerful question: What does a girl need from her parents when everything has gone topsy-turvy?  The answer: more attachment, not less.  

To further underscore the point he adds, “Even when she is most unlovable, she needs love and connectedness not only from her mother but also from her father.

 
So what do you need to be a dialed-in dad who is sensitive to your ever-changing daughter even with all of her up’s and down’s?

So what do you need to be a dialed-in dad who is sensitive to your ever-changing daughter even with all of her up’s and down’s?

 

I believe the answer is tucked inside an obscure story in the middle of the book of Joshua (by the way, even if you’re not one to crack open the Bible I hope you’ll hang in here and keep reading. It’s a really cool narrative…I promise!)

This is a story about an incredible dad who got it right with his daughter. He says six words that, if emulated, will make you a better dad starting today.

Quick backstory: Caleb is an Israelite spy who, along with his friend Joshua, went on a journey to check out what was called “the Promised Land” to find out if it was inhabitable. After their exploration there was one BIG problem: there were giants living in it. But instead of being intimidated, these two guys saw with eyes of faith and believed that God would give them the land regardless of overwhelming odds. 

Fast forward to a later time when Caleb is interacting with his married daughter Achsah. Just like her visionary dad, she was a courageous woman who wasn’t afraid to ask for what she wanted. It’s obvious that her dad had modeled to her what it meant to be bold and forthright. 

Let’s pick up the story in Joshua 15. “One day when Achsah came to her husband, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her,

What can I do for you?”

I love that question from dad to daughter. It’s so simple yet so profound. These are six words that every dad should memorize and use regularly. I believe they will positively impact the way your daughter interacts with you if you put them into practice.

Notice that this dad brought himself to his daughter’s problem. He was willing to invest his time and his resources to help her, all before he knew what it was she even wanted.

Here is Achsah’s response to her dad’s question: “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” 

She obviously had a foundation of relationship to ask her dad for “a special favor.” She knew he would listen. She had no fear of asking for something in addition to the first gift he’d already given her.  She trusted that he would respond.

The amazing thing is that he does it for her. We read that “Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.”  

Do you notice how easily she responded to her dad’s question about what she wanted  without holding back

Do you notice how he offers himself as the solution to her request?

Do you notice how he gives his daughter more than she asked for?

Who would have thought that a father from 16th century BC could provide such a profound six-word code that dads in the 21st century could use to unlock their daughters’ hearts?  

Dad, I encourage you to begin making these six words a regular part of your interactions with your daughter: “What can I do for you?” 

It’s not about throwing things at her; it’s about bringing YOU to the relationship. I guarantee that these few words will be a game-changer in the way your daughter responds to you.

Hugs that Heal

Michelle Watson

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I read a story a couple of years ago in Father Wounds by Francis Anfuso that has stayed with me ever since. Some stories have a powerful way of doing that, especially when they go straight to the heart.

Today I shared this with a man who unexpectedly found himself tearing up while hearing it. Because of his response, I figured it would be good to share it with you.

A few years ago a pastor named George Brantley spoke on the topic of fathering to a student body of 1,100 at a Christian college in Texas. After spending two days with them he ended by offering a “safe hug” to anyone who needed one.

The author stated that “what happened next was both tragic and astounding.”

One by one, hundreds of young men and women made their way to the front of the auditorium while many stood in line for over three hours, all to experience a “safe hug” from this man. Apparently there were so many who sobbed on George’s shoulders that it literally ruined his jacket and shirt.

I’m struck by the way that this father figure showed up in real time with a real gift of his presence. As a result, kids who weren’t his own were drawn like a magnet to him. There was such a powerful longing for the strong arms of a safe man to wrap themselves around these students that they waited for hours just to receive this small deposit into their emotional bank account.

 
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All he did was offer to put his arms around them in a gesture that affirmed and communicated love. The result? They lined up and waited their turn. For hours. All for a hug.

My friend Paul Young is like that. Some would say that his hugs heal. I can affirm that his hugs have definitely been healing for me. I’ve told him that I describe them as “holy hugs” because they have a way of drawing me to God the Father’s embrace.

Paul says you can tell a lot about a person through a hug. He’s held people for twenty or thirty minutes, even longer, as they sob into him. He doesn’t need to say a word because he hears the language of their tears. His presence speaks louder than any words anyway.

Safe hugs have a way of doing that, even without verbiage. They touch the depths of who we are and warmly say that it’s going to be okay, and more importantly, that we’re worth loving.

Dad, your daughter needs your physical, loving arms around her. Daily.

And she doesn’t need you to be perfect; she just needs you to be present.

And this is the kind of “present” where you show up in physical form with hugs ready. No words required.

Ready. Set. Hug!

Thinking Backward

Michelle Watson

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If you’ve ever played sports (which I assume includes all of you in one way or another), you know that every single time you step onto the field or court, you always know where the goal is. Always. 

The goal has everything to do with the direction you run, the points you make (or miss), and whether you win or lose.

The energy you expend is always oriented toward the goal because that’s where the points are. That’s what counts.

Without a clear goal, you can’t play the game. 


Without a clear goal, you can’t win the game. 


With your daughter, it’s the same way.

As you think about “the game you’re playing” (I’m using game as a metaphor to capture the essence of the interpersonal dynamic between the two of you, not as something fake in your relationship), are you clear about the goal you have in your relationship with her?

I can’t think of too many dads I’ve met who are clear about the goal or outcome they are shooting for with their daughter. Maybe a general idea, but not a specific goal. 

And for a goal to work, it has to be clear, specific, measurable, and achievable. 

Dad, I ask you this: Have you taken the time to honestly and directly state for yourself your goals as a father with your daughter? 

Using the sports analogy above, it may help to think of it like this:  If your end goal is to launch your daughter at the age of 18 as a healthy, confident, authentic, clear-minded, and vibrant young woman who is ready to take on the world, what are you currently doing to help her get there? Or let’s break it down further, what is your “half time assessment plan” if she is nine years old and you’re half way there? 

I’m going to add one more layer to this concept of goal setting with your daughter. I call it thinking backward.

This time I recommend that you think about not just the here and now, but also about the future. It can be a new way of looking at the present by imagining the end of your life and thinking backward from then to now. I’m not trying to be morbid. Just stating a reality that we all have to face.

We all leave a legacy. One way or another, we leave an imprint. 

So I invite you to ask yourself a tough question, one that will allow you to be brutally honest with yourself while sitting in the reality that you are leaving a legacy for good or bad, whether you want to or not.

What do you want your legacy to look like? For real.

You will literally change the course of history through your active engagement with your daughter at the heart level. She will carry you with her after you leave this earth. Your legacy will live on through her in proportion to your heart investment in her.

Though you won’t be around forever physically, you will be around forever in the deposit you leave in your daughter’s life. A theory in the field of psychology claims that some adults have an internalized parent who lives on inside them. Long after that parent is gone, the adult child may still seek to please the parent who is no longer around to see the performance.  So again I ask you:  What are you doing now to make sure your daughter hears your encouraging, supportive, loving, grace-filled, validating, inspiring, and motivating voice in her head forever?

Carefully consider the following statement, and then finish the sentence in your own words:

 

At the end of my life, if my daughter had only one thing to say about me, I want it to be...

  

 

Looking at the response you just wrote, is it a head response or a heart response? I know you wrote a heart response. How do I know that? Because every dad I’ve ever invited to finish this sentence has written a heart response.

Here are some of the things I’ve heard dads say they hope their daughters would say about them at the end of their lives:

“There isn’t anything he wouldn’t do or give for me, even at a cost to himself.”

“I never doubted his love for me.”

“I knew he adored me.”

“He loved the Lord with all his heart and soul, and he loved me in the same way.”


Dad, if I could take one more minute of your time I want to encourage you to take what you wrote in the box above and break it down into three action steps. (Remember that action heroes have to take action in order to be a hero).

For example, if you wrote that you want your daughter to know you love her, write how your love will look. Be specific. You might write something like this:

  1. I will drive her to school every Friday while stopping at Starbucks on the way so we have a tradition that is ours and ours alone.

  2. I will take her on a dad-daughter date once a month as a way to let her know by my actions that she is worth my time, money, and energy.

  3. I will write her a letter every year on her birthday to tell her the exact ways I’ve seen her grow in that year while making sure she hears why she is special to me.

Do you see how the concept of love grew legs by the action plan that accompanied it?

 

The ways I will put my goal into action this week with my daughter are:

1. 

2. 

3. 

 

I trust that this exercise of thinking backwards will be one that now guides your action steps in the present. I’m cheering you on from here. Go Dad!

Three Little Words That Will Change Your Daughter's Life (and they're not "I love you")

Michelle Watson

My dad, like every other dad, has things he’s done right and things he’s done wrong when it comes to parenting.

There are things he’s proud of (especially the things that were 180 degrees different from what his dad modeled to him---like taking us on vacations, eating meals as a family, and doing dad-daughter dates) while there are other things he’d rather forget (like angry outbursts, harsh responses to his tender-hearted daughters, and times that full-time ministry got in the way). 

But from my vantage point as a daughter there is one thing in particular that my dad did right, one thing that stands out among the rest, one thing that has touched my heart deeply and has gone a long way to remedy the mistakes, blunders, and the wishes for do-overs. 

It’s a little three-word response that my dad has said so many times over the years that I’ve lost count by now. They are simply:

"Anything for you."

I wish I could play you a sound bite so you could hear his tone of voice when saying these words, but I assure you that they’re always said in a really kind way. I don’t know how he’s pulled it off for decades now, but this is truly where he’s gotten it right time and again.

These words are grace.  
These words are mercy.
These words are generous.
These words are unmerited favor.
These words are good for my heart

Really good. The hot-fudge-with-whipped-cream-and-sprinkles kind of good.

 
I can’t explain how three little words change everything, but they do.

I can’t explain how three little words change everything, but they do.

 

I’m guessing there are times my dad truly hasn’t wanted to step up to the plate and give of himself to meet my needs, but he doesn’t let me know that part. He just says these three magic words and gives them as a gift to me (which he still does to this day!).

And because my “emergencies” and his schedule haven’t always lined up, his sacrificial “anything for you” stance has communicated that I am still a priority even though I’m a grown woman----whether it’s been my broken down car on the side of the road or my water heater that went out at 9 pm. and meant he had to drive over late at night to fix it (when he’d rather be winding down and heading to bed) or the times he’s insisted on mowing my lawn despite his hip causing him pain. He’s cared about the things that matter to me.

You may not know this, but my dad literally lacked a role model in the fathering department. 

His dad was an alcoholic and abandoned the family when he was only seven or eight years old.  Suffice it to say, being a father was the last thing my dad had a clue about, especially being the father to four girls! But somehow he learned (and was willing to learn) from watching other dads, which proves that any dad can turn things around in his generation regardless of the template he’s been given…or not been given.

Now I want to be honest with you for a minute while giving you a female perspective. Sometimes life has a way of communicating a message to us as women that tells us that we ask too much. For me personally (when this view is in the forefront), I wind up believing that I need to prove that I’m tough and that I can navigate things on my own without asking anyone for help, let alone my dad. 

 
 

But this really isn’t healthy. Or good. Or realistic. 

t’s actually a disastrous paradigm because we’re created to need connection and relationship. 

Dad, you have the power and the privilege to meet your daughter’s needs, whether or not they seem legitimate or a high priority to you. Listen to what she says and then offer to come alongside and offer your help.

Why not take the step today and add this life-changing verbal triad to your repertoire. 

Then you’ll get to watch the core of your daughter’s being take flight as she hears you respond to her requests---whether convenient or inconvenient for you---as you say these three little, yet BIG, words:  

  Anything for you.”

Dadvice: Soften Your Tone

Michelle Watson

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I am hopeful by now that you, Dad, really know that I’m one of your biggest fans.  

To underscore that fact, I have a tagline on my website that truly captures my heart, which is simply this: Helping Dads Become Heroes.

You’ve heard me say time and again that in order to be a hero, you have to take action. Think:  Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man. Now think: You.

Truth be told, superheroes can’t hold a candle to you because you have the ability to take your superpowers and use them to touch your daughter’s heart and life in profound, forever ways. 

You as a superhero are the first man to love your daughter and that is your most incredible superpower!

I know that you want to see your daughter grow and bloom and soar. I believe your deepest desire is to mold and shape her in ways that hold her in good stead throughout her life.

Yet because you’re a mere mortal and not super human, your mask and your armor come off when you get home. That’s where things sometimes don’t always line up between your head and your heart. That’s where the emotional switch gets flipped on and buttons get pushed. That’s where you say things you later regret, leading to the need for making amends.

If I could offer one piece of advice to help you achieve your goal of being the best dialed-in dad you can be, I would say this:

Soften your tone.

Or to say it another way: Your daughter will hear you differently if the tone of your voice is more gentle and kind. In essence, your tone changes your tune.

I realize the word soft isn’t the most masculine of terms and yet if you want to see better results in the quality of your relationship with your daughter, trust me when I say it’s worth the work to hone this skill because your interactions will thrive as a result.

Over time I’ve come to discover, both from interacting with dads and daughters, that men don’t always realize how their intense their vocal tone actually is. In one felt swoop, those forceful words cut like a knife to the heart. To her heart.

Oftentimes as men you think you’re talking in a gentle tone to your daughters, but to them it sounds like a harsh command. They hear your words as an order being barked at them. And I know you don’t hear it that way, which then leaves you confused because your sons never seem to have a problem when you talk to them like that, right?

 
Though fathers sometimes say that their daughters are the ones who have the tone problem because of their big emotional reactive responses, I would suggest that change has to start with you.   If you stay soft, she will calm down…eventually.

Though fathers sometimes say that their daughters are the ones who have the tone problem because of their big emotional reactive responses, I would suggest that change has to start with you. If you stay soft, she will calm down…eventually.

 

So how do you activate this stance of softening your tone?

1. Give yourself a time out.
I suggest taking a break from the interaction that is synonymous with your age. I know that might sound crazy, but it works in the same way with adults as kids. If you’re 50, then you need 50 minutes after being frustrated or enraged to calm down. Decide here on the front end that you will discipline, correct, or instruct when you’re angry and emotionally activated. Walk away and come back later. That way there’s less chance of saying something you’ll regret. It’s always a good idea to wait until your emotional midbrain has returned to its normal state before engaging in a potentially intense interaction. 

2. Find another dad to be accountable to.
I continue to be aware that men are highly motivated when there is competition and/or camaraderie. So why not find another father who is working on softening his tone and then challenge each other to change the way you interact with your kids. Touch base at least once a month and encourage each other to stay the course.

3. Ask your daughter for periodic feedback.
Since your goal is to nurture her heart space, why not use her feedback as a template to gauge how you’re really doing. Let her know you’re working on softening your tone and then invite her to give you input on your progress. This will add yet another layer of accountability as you ask your daughter to weigh in.

I have yet to meet a father or a daughter who doesn’t want their relationship to be healthier and stronger. And I have yet to meet a father or a daughter who isn’t happier and more hopeful when their relationship is on track and in harmony. 

But if the bridge has been bombed out between the two of you due to this exact issue of heart hurts due to harsh responses, there’s no better time than the present to soften your tone and change the dance.

She’ll be glad you did. And so will you.

Dear Dad...What I Wish I'd Said to You Years Ago

Michelle Watson

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We’re just one week away from Father’s Day, and today I’m inviting you into my personal, vulnerable space by letting you read this heartfelt letter I wrote to my dad for Father’s Day a couple of years ago. And rest assured that much of what he’s done to invest in me over the years were things that I wasn’t necessarily thinking were significant at the time. That part came later. I trust this will encourage you dads to keep staying the course as you make forever deposits in your daughter’s life, choosing to believe that the day will come when she will look back and remember.

Dear Dad…
Sometimes the beauty of growing older means that things look different from this angle. I know I’ve thanked you for your consistent investment in my life many times over the years, but this year I want to highlight some things that maybe I’ve not fully appreciated until now.

Thank you…
…for choosing, along with mom, to let my birth happen. Even after finding out that you were pregnant with me before you were married, you took the high road and allowed for me to be born. People weren’t open about those things in 1960 and I am deeply grateful that you chose life.

Thank you…
…for letting me fall asleep on your chest, even as a newborn, because apparently it was one of the only places I could settle down.

Thank you…
…for getting on the floor to wrestle with me, lifting me “high in the sky,” and actually enjoying our time together while we laughed and played even after you’d had a long day at work.

Thank you…
…for taking me to the park and hiding coins in the bark dust, letting me believe that it all magically appeared out of nowhere, which made me feel like the richest girl on the block (now that I think about it, I still am).

Thank you…
…for making up bedtime stories while we girls placed an imaginary “thinking cap” on the top of your head, an enchanted hat by which the all-time best stories were birthed from you because you loved seeing your girls giggle, imagine, and dream.

Thank you…
…for going the extra mile to build unique and spectacular things that made your daughter’s childhood a bit better---like putting wheels on a milk crate and attaching handlebars to the top so we had an incredible, one-of-a-kind scooter that was the envy of the neighborhood to putting a light bulb inside our kitchen cupboard which transformed it into the most fantastic fort that ever existed.

Thank you…
…for years of courageously accepting your role as the infamous “cutter-of-my-bangs.” And for the record, I do forgive you for the innumerable times that the final result turned out less than we’d hoped for due to my cowlick. My fifth grade school photo, however, doesn’t feel the same way.

Thank you…
…for making it a priority to lead our annual all-day trek to find the perfect Christmas tree two hours away while creating a fun tradition of singing songs at the top of our lungs in the car, songs that still make Christmas special when I hear them. (“I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus” and “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” were two of our greatest hits, don’t you think?)

 
 

Thank you…
…for creating memories with us girls that were 180 degrees different from what your dad did with you (or more accurately, didn’t do with you), making a concerted effort to walk in the opposite direction of the hand you were dealt while investing time and energy to be a dialed-in dad.

Thank you…
…for taking me on my first date to the Rheinlander restaurant when I was 16 and making me wait in the car until you came around and opened the door, telling me that you wanted me to never settle for a guy who didn’t do the same.

Thank you…
…for recusing me on the freeway when my car broke down and all I could do was cry, never lecturing me or making me feel embarrassed for not being more courageous, strong or mature.

Thank you…
…for wiping my tears and rescuing me when my heart was broken down after a breakup…or two…or three…and reminding me that any guy who’d have the privilege of dating me would be the lucky one.

Thank you…
…for repairing every broken thing inside and outside my house that has ever needed your inventive, inexpensive, impressive, and ingenious fixes.

Thank you…
…for taking me to Nordstrom for the past 25+ years at Christmastime where together we’ve smelled more scents than we could ever count while creating one of the best traditions ever: Perfume Day! Every bottle that you’ve bought me is a fragrant reminder of your love for me, a love that sacrificially enjoys spoiling me in a way that says I’m valued in a big, big way.

Thank you…
…for never giving up on me and for your ongoing pursuit of a relationship with me that’s been consistent throughout my entire life, even with all my emotional up’s and down’s and even during times where we’ve bonked heads and disagreed, always showing me that a dad’s love lasts through it all.

Dad, I know that words can’t truly express how much I love you, but from the depths of my heart I want you to know that you mean the world to me! And in case I don’t tell you enough, just remember again today how grateful I am for every single deposit you’ve made in my life through the years, big and small.

Happy Fathers Day, Dad!

How God Becomes Your Father (Guest Blog by Ed McGlasson)

Michelle Watson

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Today we have the privilege of hearing from my friend, Ed McGlasson, a former NFL lineman who played with the Giants, the Jets, and the Rams. If you’ve never had your earthly father talk to you about how much you’re loved by your Heavenly Father, Ed is here to speak into your life as a surrogate dad, of sorts. Read on as he unpacks solid biblical truth that has the potential to change your life. ~ Michelle

How many of you have ever said, “I’ll never do to my kids what my dad did to me!”?

Most of us have said that at one point or another. These are natural reactions to hurt we’ve received, even if we had a great dad. But what about those of us who didn’t have a present, loving father? What about those who had an emotionally distant father, an absent father, or an abusive father?

Without the model of a present, loving father, boys grow up to become discouraged or despondent husbands and fathers. Some feel it’s just easier to leave, so that their kids don’t suffer from their mistakes. Unfortunately, this only perpetuates the broken cycle of fatherlessness that initiated their feelings of unworthiness in the first place.

The issue of fatherlessness is nothing new. While the number of fatherless children today continues to grow at an alarming rate, the issue was present all the way back in the Old Testament of the bible. The prophet Jeremiah wrote in the book of Lamentations:

“Orphans we are, not a father in sight, and our mothers no better than widows.” (Lam 5:3 MSG)

Jesus came to change this orphan song. He said: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18) 

He was speaking to each and every one of us born without a present, loving father in our lives.

When young boys are raised in a home without a present, loving father, they suffer. Boys tend to ask the question, “Who am I?” and “Am I good enough?” Without another man present to answer this question for them, they spend their life trying to find their identity and prove their worth through their exploits, careers, and other accomplishments. While most of these young boys will grow up to be fathers themselves, they often lack the tools necessary to provide their children with a present, loving father—even if that is their very heart’s desire.

So what is God’s answer to fatherlessness? Is it too late for men in America to rise up and become the men, fathers, and leaders they didn’t have themselves? 

The book of Malachi gives us a clue as to how God plans to heal this issue of fatherlessness:  

 
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” ( Malachi 4:5-6)

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4:5-6)

 

God has a plan to not only heal the issue of fatherlessness, but to heal the wounds you personally have suffered without a present, loving father in your life: your father wounds. He has a plan to heal your family, your community, and yes—the whole world.

God’s plan is two-fold. He plans to turn the hearts of fathers back to children. And he plans to turn the hearts of children back to their fathers.

But first, in order to do this, God’s plan is to become your father.

“…and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18 ESV)

How does God the Father become your Father? God the Father adopts you into His family when you put your hope and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, and receive His free gift of forgiveness. When this happens, it changes how you father your children, because it changes how you’ve been fathered.

God’s plan isn’t just to change you into a great father. He wants you to have a great Father yourself. It is through this relationship and blessing from your new heavenly Father that you receive the blessing you need to pass on to your children.

When you receive the Blessing of the Father for yourself, God will begin to turn your heart back to your children. This process happens when you discover how much God the Father loves you, and the great lengths to which He’s gone to be your Father.

These truths can be further realized through daily reading and meditation upon God’s Word. Knowing that God has blessed you to be the father to your children—and has given you everything you need to be their father—empowers you, and turns your heart to stay and be the present, loving father that He has called you to be.

If God’s plan all along was to turn your heart back to your children, then He also has a plan to empower you to be the father your kids need you to be. It is never too late to become that father!

Many young children live in bitterness, and shut down in their relationships because of wounds they’ve received from their fathers. This is not a reason for you to shut down as well; this is an opportunity for you to take the first step in love and forgiveness even if your kids have hurt you.

Here are two questions you can ask your kids that will help begin the healing process of turning their hearts back to you:

  • Can you help me understand how I’ve hurt you so that I can ask for forgiveness?

  • Can you help me understand what you need from me as your dad right now?

If you have the courage to ask those questions, you have taken a gigantic step in restoring your relationship with your kids. Let your heart turns back towards our children so your children’s hearts will turn back to you.

It’s never too late to be the father your kids need you to be, and to have the Father you’ve always wanted. Remember, the Father loves you and sent His Son to let you know!

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Ed McGlasson is a pastor, best-selling author, renowned conference and corporate event speaker, and a five-year veteran in the National Football League. He is the author of the best-selling book titled, The Difference A Father Makes, as well as Be Loved and The Father You’ve Always Wanted, with a big vision to reach hurting families with the love and the blessing of God as their Father through his testimony and life-changing message. You can read more about him at blessingofthefather.com.

When Your Daughter Doesn't Get a Ring by Spring

Michelle Watson

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I don't know if it's something in the air lately or if it's just the typical awakening that happens after a long winter, but suffice it to say that I’ve had more talks recently with women about their singleness than I’ve had in the entire past year combined!

Maybe it’s tied to the colorful spring blossoms magically popping up from the ground that are activating the not-far-from-the-surface desire in women to see love blossom for them in a similar way. All I know is that regardless of the impetus, there are a lot of women with aching hearts due to feeling alone now that spring has sprung.

If you could sit where I sit, you would see and hear passionate women with incredible gifts and amazing dreams who don’t feel fully alive or empowered to reach toward those dreams due to the fact that they are single. You heard me right; there are myriads of women who are blocked and stuck and stalled out in their life pursuits all because they don’t have guy pursuits in the works.

Just this past week an adorable 16-year old, with tears streaming down her cheeks, told me about her struggle with not having a boyfriend while most of her friends are coupled, leaving her to conclude that she’s not thin enough to attract a guy. In another conversation, a 33-year old successful career woman with current job promotion potential expressed her hypothesis that there must be some looming deficits that keeps men from pursuing her. She shared how hard it is when those first dates repeatedly fail to turn into second dates, leading her to believe she’s undesirable and not worth the effort.

You see, we as women most often conclude that there is something lacking in us when we’re not the one being chosen. Rarely do we think there’s something wrong with the guy.

I know too many women--from their teens on up--who are less than enthusiastic about the incredible opportunities directly in front of them and instead are fixated on the one thing they don't have: a boyfriend. And it really doesn’t help when the questions keep coming by well-meaning inquirers that focus primarily on our dating lives as opposed to other aspects of our existence.

Truth be told, it’s never easy to repeatedly report that there’s not much happening in the romance department.

To make matters worse (and I speak from years of experience on this one), although we love attending wedding showers for our girlfriends and are honored to stand next to them as a bridesmaid when they enter into holy matrimony, there’s a bittersweet reality that accompanies these shindigs.

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As single women we always secretly wonder if our forever soul mate might be waiting for us at these events, especially at weddings. Maybe he’ll be standing on the groom’s side of the platform and we’ll unintentionally exchange glances, only then to have the matchup seem obvious as we exit, walking down the aisle, arm in arm (because the bride made sure that we were paired up). Or we dream about Mr. Right possibly being at the reception where we’ll inadvertently bump into each other on the dance floor and sparks will instantaneously fly. And on it goes.

We can’t help but wonder if our forever story is waiting to be written at these celebrations. Try as we might not to think ahead, the whole idea of longing for a guy to notice us and choose us so that our fairy tale can begin seems to be constantly present (even though we rarely admit it publicly). Dreaming and wishing and hoping is half the fun…until nothing happens…again.

Someone told me this week that she and her mom agree that I’m the most vibrant single woman they know. As nice as that was to hear, my immediate thought was: Why aren’t there more women who are thriving in their singleness?

Dads, I believe you are more of a solution to the problem than you may realize.

Way too many women are inadvertently believing the lie that they’re not a success unless they’re dating, engaged, or married. That message is being perpetuated…everywhere…and it needs to stop.

Your input into your daughter’s life has the power to carry a counter cultural message---which is that she has vibrancy and purpose beyond her marital status.

Here’s what your single daughter needs to hear from you…today:

  1. She needs to learn what guys think--particularly when it comes to romance. You remember what it was like at the age where your daughter is right now. Tell her where your head was at, especially the part where you were distracted or lazy, selfish or unmotivated to pursue a girl because you knew the work it would take to commit and were focused on figuring out your own life. Let her know it's not something wrong with her that has guys doing what they do.

  2. She needs you to tell her that she’s beautiful and competent, qualified, and “enough” just the way she is, right where she’s at, whether or not there’s a boyfriend in the picture. Your daughter needs more encouragement, more support, and more validation from you in extra measure if she’s single. And even if she’s dating someone or already married, she still will thrive when hearing that you believe in her, are proud of her, and that you love her fully and completely (as a work in progress, just like you).

  3. She needs to hear that even if she never gets married, you are not disappointed in her and are fully proud of her. Focus on highlighting what she is doing, not what she isn’t. And I don’t know why it is, but a lot of women believe that their parents will be happier if we have a husband and give them grandchildren. So when we feel we’ve failed to make our parents happy or proud of us in those areas (even if it’s never been communicated directly), we feel like a failure. The reality is that it’s our “stuff.” But that’s why fathers are so important when it comes to communicating their affirmation of their daughters at every age regardless of marital status.

So what do you say, dads…will you join me in spreading this message to your girls?

Let's join together in emboldening single women to enthusiastically live their lives to the fullest while encouraging them to focus on using their unique gifts to make a difference in the world.

Let's stop asking mostly about their love lives and instead spend more time asking about the latest opportunities they’re embracing and inquire about the new things they’re learning.

Let's deepen our conversations to celebrate and highlight that which single women have to offer their communities rather than carelessly and needlessly directing the conversation to the one area where she may feel less confident or successful.

Let’s celebrate all women, not just those who are dating or married. All of us together have the power to change the way we interact and today is the day to broaden our focus so we’re talking about all things life-breathing, not just about boys and dating.

Dads, before I close, here’s one practical idea for investing in your single daughters in a creative, not-for-any-specific-occasion way:

What if you bought a quality ring for your daughter just to let her know she’s valuable…to you. Then every time she looks at it she will be reminded that you love her and that she’s a treasure.

Can you picture it? Single women across the nation showing off the rings they got this spring…from their dads!

P.S. Just in case your daughter might need a little spiritual encouragement, here is one of my favorite passages because it’s all about passionately embracing life as a single woman:

Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy…enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide, lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
…Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated…
For your Maker is your bridegroom---the Lord Almighty is his name!

Isaiah 54: 1-5

I Don't Speak Feelings (Guest Blog by Dr. Joe Martin)

Michelle Watson

Here’s a fun backstory to today’s guest blog: After I recently wrote my Dad-Daughter Friday blog titled,  I Don’t Speak ‘Car,’  the first person to respond was my friend, Dr. Joe Martin, who said,  “ Now we need to do one written to fathers to teach us how to speak 'feelings'.”   That’s when I knew he was the perfect person address this issue as a dad to a teenage daughter who understands the unique challenges of speaking her emotional language.  Enjoy!    ~Michelle

Here’s a fun backstory to today’s guest blog: After I recently wrote my Dad-Daughter Friday blog titled, I Don’t Speak ‘Car,’ the first person to respond was my friend, Dr. Joe Martin, who said, Now we need to do one written to fathers to teach us how to speak 'feelings'.” That’s when I knew he was the perfect person address this issue as a dad to a teenage daughter who understands the unique challenges of speaking her emotional language. Enjoy!
~Michelle

How would you like to take a 5-day cruise to the Bahamas with your wife, or the woman of your dreams, watch the sunset off the balcony of your cruise suite; go snorkeling together, hold hands walking on the beach, get massages, go dancing, sing Karaoke together, and sip drinks with tiny umbrellas in them? Sounds good, right?

But how would you like to do all those things and have your teenage daughter tag along with you? What you talk'in about Willis? (in my best Gary Coleman voice)  

That's right! My beautiful wife and I decided to take my precocious, 16-year old daughter on a cruise to the Bahamas for Spring Break. What could possibly go wrong living in the confines of a cabin with two women, one bed, one sofa, and one bathroom?!

Let's just say, it was a vacation to remember! (or forget - depending on if you're a glass half-empty-half-full kind of guy).

My friend, Dr. Michelle Watson, wrote a wonderful article a couple of months ago about women not being able to "speak car,” which she defined as a challenge she’s experienced in not always being able to communicate in ways that men understand. I absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot. 

However, after spending almost a week in a cabin and on a boat with two women, let's just say, Dr. Michelle needs to write another article, but this time to women to educate them on the way that men often struggle to relate to them, calling it, "I don't speak feelings."

Here are just a few lessons I learned from my five days on a cruise ship with my wife and daughter, drenched in estrogen. (Play at your own risk if you choose to let your daughter or wife read this!)

Lesson #1: Apathy: "If you don't ask about it, that means you must not care."


I didn't know that my inability to ask 21 questions reflects my insensitivity to the "isn't it obvious" needs of a woman. I can't tell you how many times I heard the following questions (and you can fill in the blank with whatever you choose): 

"Sweetie, aren't you're going to _________?"  
"Daddy, why didn't you do __________?"
"Baby, how could you forget to do _________?"
"Daddy, you're not going to ask me about _________?"

 
I didn't know that not knowing what a woman wants and thinks without her telling us means that we either  don't care, don't really want to go,  or  we’d rather be doing something else.  But it definitely can't mean “ we didn't know."

I didn't know that not knowing what a woman wants and thinks without her telling us means that we either don't care, don't really want to go, or we’d rather be doing something else. But it definitely can't mean “we didn't know."


 

Lesson #2: Insensitive: "If you question my mistake, then you're not being loving."

My daughter lost one of our bags that contained most of my wife's valuables. Could you imagine how upset my wife was; and she was sure to let my daughter know about it. But during the entire time, I didn't say a word; I just sat back an observed.  

I must admit, my wife handled the situation like a pro (much better than I would have). But as soon as my daughter tried to make an excuse and shift the responsibility to my wife (Can you believe that?), before I could get even three words out, my daughter burst into tears claiming I was bashing her, criticizing her, and being insensitive to her feelings. And I didn't even finish my thought! 

I didn't know that a man should refrain from teaching, questioning, or correcting a woman when she's feeling bad about doing something wrong or refusing to accept responsibility for it.

#3: Selfishness: "If you don't respond to my requests quickly, then you must only care about yourself."

On the cruise, I felt like I was part of the ship staff. Because I guess it was agreed upon, without my knowledge before the trip, that I would be the personal valet for my wife and daughter. I would be on-call 24 hours a day to get all the drinks, grab all the towels, and get all the midnight snacks whenever requested.  

Of course, to survive the trip, and still have a bed to sleep in, I did everything without complaint. However, my teenage daughter thought my delays were my personal rejection of her, and she felt like I didn't care about attending to her needs as much as I did her mom's.  

Coincidentally, I wore a Fitbit during the cruise, so I surpassed at least 10,000 steps every day during our time on the ship. How is that even possible? I was running so many errands on the cruise that I seriously thought about asking the crew for a uniform and filling out a W-2 form!

 
I didn't know that when you're in the company of two women and you're a dude, you're supposed to be ready to respond to their beck and call as they continue to do what they want to do, not what you want to do; otherwise, you're being selfish.

I didn't know that when you're in the company of two women and you're a dude, you're supposed to be ready to respond to their beck and call as they continue to do what they want to do, not what you want to do; otherwise, you're being selfish.


 

Lesson #4: Anger: "If you take time away to be away from me, you must be mad at me, someone, or something."

I know most people go on vacation to do stuff, go a lot of places, and try different things. However, the perfect vacation for me is me doing absolutely NOTHING and reading a good book and sleeping - disconnected from the world. Boring, yes, I know, but definitely relaxing to me.   

However, I must qualify this statement, I intentionally tried to do almost everything that my family requested (with joy), from snorkeling, working out, acupuncture (yes, that's right), to singing karaoke, which my loving family forced me to do; then they secretly videoed me impersonating Prince and proceeded to post it on Facebook. I'm still getting text messages and weird stares about that.  

However, as soon as I decided to find a hide-a-way to go read, drink, and relax, I received more questions than a perp on Law and Order:

"Are you okay?"
"Are you upset about something?"
"What's wrong with you?"
"Where did you go?"
"Why are you hiding from us?"


Who knew "going away" meant you're getting angry? I thought it just meant getting away.

I'm sure there were other lessons I missed. And for the most part, I still managed to enjoy the vacation, spend some time with my wife, and even bond with my daughter (we had a dress-up dinner date without mom - priceless), but the trip felt more like boot camp than a vacation.

All I can say is, as soon as Dr. Michelle publishes her book for men on "speaking feelings," I'm purchasing the first copy. Trust me, it's destined to be a best seller.  
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Dr. Joe Martin is an award-winning international speaker, author, and educator who has authored nine books. He is also the host of the #1 radio podcast on iTunes for Christian Men called Real Men Connect and heralds from Chattanooga, TN where he lives with his wife and teenage daughter. You can connect with him at www.realmenconnect.com.

Blind Spots

Michelle Watson

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We’ve all heard the term “blind spot” when it comes to driving. And just to make sure we’re all in the same lane, here’s how the dictionary defines it: “an area where a person's view is obstructed.”

And though this term refers to our line of sight when driving a car, it also serves as a clever metaphor for life beyond the wheel. Why is that, you ask? Because every one of us is vulnerable to mishaps or accidents in those areas where our view is less than clear.

Relating this to dads, have you ever wondered how your personal blind spots might keep you from seeing the ways that your “driving” is impacting your daughter? [a.k.a. the way you steer her or influence her by your responses and choices]. Truth be told: the way you “drive” when she’s along for the ride impacts every part of her life. Stated otherwise, your blind spots have the potential to harm her or even put her in danger.

But let’s be honest, sometimes it can be hard to come out from under the illusion that we’re expert drivers because then it would require admitting that maybe we don’t have things under control or that we can’t see everything plainly. And to make matters worse, what happens when someone points out something we’ve missed or done wrong when we’re the one at the wheel.

  • That’s usually when the walls of defensiveness go up. 

  • That’s usually when anger and blame are set into motion. 

  • That’s usually when conflict erupts. 

Bottom line: Every move we make impacts those with us in the car when we’re “driving.” Even more, when our view is obstructed and we don’t see how the things we’re doing negatively impact those around us, it’s in those times that there is greater potential for unintended or catastrophic injury to those we love. 

 
You’ve no doubt seen these words inscribed on your rear view mirror:   Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.    How true this is when it comes to your relationship with your daughter. Whether she is in the car [of life] with you or in a car following behind yours, she is closely watching and listening and taking note.

You’ve no doubt seen these words inscribed on your rear view mirror: Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

How true this is when it comes to your relationship with your daughter. Whether she is in the car [of life] with you or in a car following behind yours, she is closely watching and listening and taking note.

 

That’s 24/7 driver’s education at it’s best…or worst.

That said, here are three common blind spots that dads can have with their daughters:

1. Speaking with harshness. Sometimes men are unaware that their strong masculine voices sound harsh, mean, or angry to their girls. Additionally, they may hear themselves as sounding less intense than their daughters do, even justifying their tone of voice when they feel the situation calls for a certain level of intensity. And though our individual preferences regarding volume levels could be described as a Mars-Venus thing (men are from Mars, women are from Venus), if you want to connect with your daughter’s heart, you’ll have to take it down a few notches. Because when a daughter experiences her dad as overpowering and domineering, she interprets his commanding stance as unloving and uncaring, which makes her feel dishonored and rejected. That is when she’ll more readily go into attack mode and retaliate in like kind or put walls up to defend and self-protect. 

Dad, softening your tone will touch that deep place in her heart that longs for and needs your approval and affirmation. 

2. Inattentive listening. I’ve heard a lot of daughters say that their dads sometimes seem more interested in their own work, sports, or ministries than in them. And this conclusion tends to be based on watching where their dads spend the bulk of their time, attention, and money, particularly when they see them have energy to invest elsewhere. Then add in the fact that the majority of men struggle to sustain interest during long conversations (especially if there’s accompanying emotion), often due to having used up the bulk of their words and listening skills during the day, and there’s typically very little margin upon coming home for attending to a talkative daughter who has a need to process life. 

But God has given us two ears and one mouth to remind us to listen twice as much as we talk, and when you listen wholeheartedly, you let your daughter know that she’s worth being heard.

But God has given us two ears and one mouth to remind us to listen twice as much as we talk, and when you listen wholeheartedly, you let your daughter know that she’s worth being heard.

3. Authoritarian Stance. We’ve all heard it said that “rules without relationship equals rebellion.” So when rules are set in place without there first being a solid foundation of relational connection (which, for dads and daughters includes spending time together, listening to each other, playing together, attending events that she’s involved in, celebrating victories and milestones, doing projects together, working alongside each other, volunteering together, etc.), a daughter can easily conclude that her dad loves her less for who she is and more because she performs right or acts perfectly. 

Spending regular, consistent face-to-face time with your daughter communicates that you care more about winning her heart than being the rule enforcer. 

Dad, if you’re ready to decrease the potential for blind spots, here’s your action steps:

The next time you get in your car and see the eight familiar words on your side mirror, Objects in mirror are closer than they appear, let them prompt you to consider how your “driving” on that particular day is impacting your daughter. 

Better yet, why not ask her if there’s one area [a blind spot] where you could do better in making her feel loved and protected and safe. 

After all, there’s no better time than the present to improve your driving record, right? Go dads!